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Katharine Hepburn is my all-time favorite actress, and one of my favorite human beings. She was a feminist, her parents both advocates for social change, holding progressive views that many of their time disapproved of. . Her father, Thomas, helped create an organization in New England that educated the public about sexually transmitted diseases. Her mother, for whom she was named, was the leader of the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association, later working with Margaret Sanger to campaign for birth control. Even when Kate was young, she went to “Votes for Women” demonstrations. She was raised to believe in critical thinking and free speech, and fighting against obstacles. She was a woman living before her time, which often affected her career. She was a woman I’ve always admired.
She died 18 years ago on 29 June 2003, so I thought I’d celebrate her by sharing some of my favorite quotes from her characters in her movies! So in no particular order…
1. Stage Door (1937)
“The calla lilies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower, suitable to any occasion. I carried them on my wedding day and now I place them here in memory of something that has died.”
synopsis: A chronicle of the ambitions, dreams, and disappointments of aspiring actresses who all live in the same boarding house.
2. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
“The time to make up your mind about people is never.”
synopsis: When a rich woman’s ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.
3. Sylvia Scarlett (1935)
“Well, we’re all fools sometimes. Only you choose such awkward times.”
synopsis: When her father decides to flee to England, young Sylvia Scarlett must become Sylvester Scarlett and protect her father every step of the way, with the questionable help of plenty others.
4. On Golden Pond (1981)
“Don’t you think that everyone looks back on their childhood with a certain amount of bitterness and regret about something? You’re a big girl now. Aren’t you tired of it all? Bore, bore. It doesn’t have to ruin your life, darling. Life marches by, Chels. I suggest you get on with it.”
synopsis: Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea’s new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms.
5. Rooster Cogburn (1975)
“Then I’ve come to the right place, haven’t I? You mean the men in the West do not mind if their women outshoot and outsmart them?”
synopsis: Marshal Rooster Cogburn unwillingly teams up with Eula Goodnight to track down her father’s murderers.
6. Adam’s Rib (1949)
“What I said was true, there’s no difference between the sexes. Men, women, the same.”
synopsis: Domestic and professional tensions mount when a husband and wife work as opposing lawyers in a case involving a woman who shot her husband.
7. Morning Glory (1933)
“They’ve been trying to frighten me into being sensible but they can’t do it – not now, not yet. They’ve got to let me be as foolish as I want to be.”
synopsis: When a naively innocent, aspiring actress arrives on the Broadway scene, she is taken under the wing of several theater veterans who mentor her to ultimate success.
8. The Glass Menagerie (1973)
“You are the only young man that I know of who ignores the fact that the future becomes the present, the present becomes the past, and the past turns into everlasting regret if you don’t plan for it.”
synopsis: Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with her faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past. Her son plans escape; her daughter withdraws into a dream world. When a “gentleman caller” appears, things move to crisis point.
9. Little Women (1933)
“If wearing hair up means becoming a lady, I’ll wear it down until I’m 100 years old.”
synopsis: A chronicle of the lives of a group of sisters growing up in nineteenth-century America.
10. Suddenly Last Summer (1959)
“I’ve buried a husband and a son. I’m a widow and a… Funny, there’s no word. Lose your parents, you’re an orphan. Lose your only son and you are… Nothing.”
synopsis: A surgeon is assigned the case of a young woman whose aunt wants her lobotomized to cover up a family secret.
11. State of the Union (1948)
“You politicians have stayed professionals only because the voters have remained amateurs.”
synopsis: An industrialist is urged to run for President, but this requires uncomfortable compromises on both political and marital levels.
12. Holiday (1938)
“Compared to the life I lead, the last man in a chain gang thoroughly enjoys himself.”
synopsis: A young man in love with a girl from a rich family finds his unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée’s eccentric sister and long-suffering brother.
13. Keeper of the Flame (1942)
“But what was really shocking to me, was the complete cynicism of the plan. Each of the groups was simply to be used until its usefulness was exhausted. Hates were to be played against hates. If one group threatened to get too powerful, it would be killed off by another group. And in the end, those poor little people who never knew to what purpose they were lending themselves would be in the same chains, cowed and enslaved.”
synopsis: Journalist Steve O’Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.